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Our Story

Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory has been serving the Wichita area community for many years. We’re thankful to be an important part of this community and will continue our longstanding legacy of helping families honor their loved ones.

 


Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory's long history in Wichita begins as a tale of two mortuaries.

 

Downing Mortuary

 

In 1923, J. H. Downing left his position as manager of Wichita Undertaking to set up his own firm, Downing Mortuary. Unlike most of his competitors, Downing never ran a furniture business in conjunction with his mortuary; his was only the second firm in Wichita to operate solely as a funeral home. Downing Mortuary opened for business in downtown Wichita on Lawrence Street (later changed to Broadway) on October 1, 1923. Downing also operated an ambulance service and maintained a distinctive fleet of seven Packards. In 1932, Downing’s son-in-law, John J. Morris, joined the firm as an embalmer, becoming manager in 1940. John’s son, Jack, joined the firm in 1957 and Jack’s son, Tom, joined the firm in 1985. J. H. Downing remained active in the firm until shortly before his death in 1972.

 

Downing was the first in the state to install a crematory, first offering this service in 1958. Downing expanded in 1964 by building a second facility, the facility presently occupied.

 

 Lahey Mortuary

City Undertaking was founded by Charles Lahey & Earl Martin in 1913. Originally a furniture business and funeral parlor, City Undertaking operated in a storefront across from the old train station in downtown Wichita. In 1915, the furniture side of the business was discontinued, and in 1918, City Undertaking moved to a new location on East Douglas. The name of the business was changed to Lahey & Martin Mortuary in 1926. In 1938, Charles Lahey purchased Earl Martin’s interest and the firm became Lahey Mortuary. Tom Lahey, Charles’ son, joined the business in 1948. Upon Charles’ death in 1949, Tom Lahey continued to build and expand Lahey Mortuary, eventually relocating to 4820 E. Central.  

1978 Merger forms Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory  
  

In 1978, the two firms became one - The Downing and Lahey Mortuary - and operated under the leadership of Jack Morris and Tom Lahey. The newly combined firm closed Lahey’s Crest Hill Building and the firm operated out of Downing's two facilities. When the downtown building was destroyed by fire in 1980, the business offices of the firm were relocated to the present location of our East Chapel, 6555 E. Central, which was expanded to allow for storage of the automotive fleet and a new crematory. 

 

In February 1999, in response to the growing needs of the community, Downing & Lahey’s West Chapel opened at 10515 West Maple Street.  

 

Tom Lahey continued working at Downing & Lahey Mortuary until his retirement in 2001. He passed away in Wichita in 2011. John and Jack Morris continued to be actively involved in the business until their deaths in 2003 and 2020, respectively. 

 


 What does local, family ownership mean for you?

 

Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory's local, family ownership continues today. Currently, the business is owned by Tom Morris, J.H. Downing's great-grandson. Tom is joined in the business by his daughter, Allison Morris Walden, and son, Michael Morris. Collectively, they represent the fourth and fifth generations of the Downing family to proudly serve area families. Together, they strive to uphold Downing & Lahey's tradition of exceptional, compassionate service to Wichita families. 

 

 

Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory - East Wichita
Phone: (316) 682-4553
6555 E. Central, Wichita, KS 67206

Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory - West Wichita
Phone: (316) 773-4553
10515 W. Maple, Wichita, KS 67209


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